Today’s communication channels offer the chance to participate in the lives of people in other parts of the world. Leonie Bremer, press spokeswoman of Fridays for Future Germany, shares her impressions on the reality of life in Uganda and the joint digital fight against climate change.
Half stumbling I walk into the kitchen of my cosy shared flat in the morning. Usually the day begins with making coffee. I want to have breakfast, and often I open the pantry cupboards and realise half annoyed, half concerned, that I have no food in the house.
No food, this is also the subject of a message from Hilda Flavia Nakabuye, which appears on my mobile phone: “Good morning Leonie, the situation is bad. People are dying. They do not have food.” Hilda is a Fridays for Future activist from Uganda.
I could run off and buy supplies for my pantry in one of the countless, eternally similar supermarkets. Shops where everything is always available. Shops where unsold goods are thrown away at the end of the day. But I lose my appetite.
Grievances in Uganda are right next to my coffee on the breakfast table
Sometimes it seems to me that Hilda and I are worlds apart. As if our places of birth had arbitrarily and inevitably predetermined our place in life. Sometimes my advice misses a problem that I cannot grasp properly. And yet Hilda and I stand side by side in the fight for a common cause: climate justice. We demand “Unite behind the science”, compliance with international treaties and, above all, that the 1.5 degree limit is not exceeded. The limit that allows us to avoid people dying of hunger in countries like Uganda.
For me, Fridays for Future and our generation have a strength that I miss in many politicians and established structures. We use today’s communication channels to participate in the lives of people in other parts of the world. We listen to each other, ask questions and try to understand. Regardless of whether countries want to act or politicians think they have found a compromise. The grievances in Uganda are right next to my coffee on the breakfast table.
People in the Global South are fleeing the effects of our actions
I do not think that “we” who live in Europe know what people in countries like Uganda need. I do not believe that “we” should define what “poor” countries need to become “better”. Better – like us? The world’s fourth largest emitters, who are making sure that people in the Global South already today have to flee from the effects of our actions?
Maybe we know how best to use a country’s resources and that quality of life can be measured by a rising gross domestic product (GDP). But for me, better quality of life does not mean a higher GDP. I rather believe that I and many politicians and actually all of us know far too little. We should listen much more.
Especially with politicians – on their stages in their expensive suits and dresses – I do not get the impression that, with all the talk about multilateralism, with all the “development aid industry” and the repeated assertions “Yes, I really do care about this topic”, they know that they are talking about. They do not know about the realities of life for so many million people around the world. They do not know about people like Hilda.
Listening and asking questions has the advantage of being able to share decisions, because real human destiny does simply not allow certain compromises. Besides the privilege of refilling my pantry, I have the privilege of using my voice. To use it for more justice. And I recommend that to everyone.
This article is the third part of our blog series on the German EU Presidency. In preparation for this, VENRO organised the Digital Africa Forum with around 70 participating civil society organisations from Africa and Europe. The participants of the forum came from almost 30 countries and different social sectors. Three of them describe their perspective on African-European relations here.